(BOSTON) — The Huntington Theatre Company’s 2016 Breaking Ground festival of new plays will be held December 1 – 4 at the Huntington’s home for new work, the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The festival is a vital part of the Huntington’s new play development efforts and highlights the work of locally-based Huntington Playwriting Fellows and national writers in partnership with the Huntington. Over the last decade, Breaking Ground plays have gone on to appear at the Huntington as well as theatres in Boston, across the country, and internationally. 

Readings are free and open to the public, though not to reviewing members of the press. Advance reservation is required. RSVP at

The four-day festival will include:

  • Alone above a raging sea by christopher oscar peña, directed by Daniel Goldstein
    Thursday, December 1 at 7:30pm; South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
  • Anna K. by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Deborah Salem Smith, directed by Stella Powell-Jones
    Friday, December 2 at 8pm; South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
  • Four Wall Prism: An Extraordinary Rendition of Historical Events  by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Thom Dunn, directed by Morgan Gould
    Saturday, December 3 at 8pm; South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
  • The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up by Carla Ching, directed by M. Bevin O’Gara
    Sunday, December 4 at 7pm; South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

“I'm thrilled to welcome christopher oscar peña and Carla Ching to the Huntington Theatre Company family to join Huntington Playwriting Fellows Thom Dunn and Deborah Salem Smith in this year's Breaking Ground reading series,” says Director of New Work Lisa Timmel. “All four are innovative and exciting writers and I know our audiences will love them as much as I do.” 

The Huntington’s Breaking Ground Festival receives support from The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Harry Kondoleon Playwriting Fund, and the Stanford Calderwood Fund for New American Plays.

Alone above a raging sea
by christopher oscar peña
Directed by Daniel Goldstein
Thursday, December 1 at 7:30pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
For a family who only sees one another on holidays and special occasions, Christmas promises a comforting togetherness.  When Andy misses his flight, however, he is left to pursue a connection with a total stranger, while his sister Alex must face their parents alone.  A contemplative look at the nature of intimacy, alone above a raging sea contrasts the secrets of a family with the surprising honesty of a one night tryst.

christopher oscar peña is a writer originally from California, now residing in Harlem and LA. He has received fellowships/awards from Sundance, The Lark Play Development Center, New York Theatre Workshop, The Playwrights Realm, The Kennedy Center, and Old Vic New Voices. His work is published through NoPassport Press and Smith and Kraus. He’s currently working on commissions from the Goodman Theater, Clarence Brown Theater, and Yale Repertory Theatre. He is a proud member of New Dramatists, was named one of “The 1st Annual Future Broadway Power List” by Backstage, and wrote for the critically acclaimed, Golden Globe nominated, debut season of “Jane the Virgin.” He teaches playwriting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is represented by CAA and Heroes and Villains. 

Anna K.
by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Deborah Salem Smith
Directed by Stella Powell-Jones
Friday, December 2 at 8pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Anna Karenina is dead, and Dolly and Kitty want to know why. But as they call up flashes of Anna’s beauty and grace, they are drawn toward new revelations of betrayal. How will they live with the secrets they kept, even from each other? Inspired by the three central women of Tolstoy’s novel, this drama gives a contemporary twist to the women’s lives as they interrogate their infatuations, their epic love affairs, and most of all their mesmerizing friendship.    

Deborah Salem Smith is a Huntington Playwriting fellow. She is the author of Anna K., Faithful Cheaters, Love Alone, Some Things Are Private, and Boots on the Ground. She is the playwright-in-residence at Trinity Repertory Company. Her play Love Alone received an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award; an Honorable Mention by the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award; and was a finalist for the National Lambda Literary Award in Drama, as well as the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best New Play. She has received multiple commissions, and her work has been developed at Trinity Repertory Company, Huntington Theatre Company, Women’s Project Theater, and Playmakers Repertory Company. Her honors include an Emerging American Artist Fulbright for Playwriting in Dublin, Ireland, where she worked with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland's national theater. She has received awards and fellowships from Princeton University, the Mellon Foundation (National Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities), the MacDowell Colony, Alpert Medical School at Brown University (Bray Visiting Scholar/Creative Artists Fellowship), a Major Hopwood Award, and a Colby Fellowship. Her work has been published by Dramatists Play Service.

Four Wall Prism: An Extraordinary Rendition of Historical Events
by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Thom Dunn
Directed by Morgan Gould 
Saturday, December 3 at 8pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Marcus’ plan to dash away from his one-night stand with Cori falls apart when the city of Boston goes on lockdown in a hunt for the Marathon Bombers. Trapped together in an apartment along with Cori’s roommate Jayme, they soon realize that the biggest threat isn’t outside after all, in playwright Thom Dunn’s stress-fueled comedy about privacy and privilege under siege.

Thom Dunn is a writer, musician, and new media artist, as well as a staff writer at Upworthy. His plays have been performed in New York, Boston, Hollywood, and Alaska, and he is currently a Huntington Playwriting Fellow. He has published short fiction with Crossed Genres/Long Hidden; comic books for Grayhaven Comics and Ninth Art Press; essays, criticisms, and other vaguely-non-fictional ramblings for Quirk Books and; and poetry in Asimov's and others. A graduate of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop at UCSD and Emerson College, Mr. Dunn enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and firmly believes that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is the single greatest atrocity ever committed against mankind.; @thomdunn;    

The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up 
by Carla Ching
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara
Sunday, December 4 at 7pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
As kids, Max and Diana meet on their parents' date, then are kicked out of the house so their parents can get it on. They are forced to play together even though they aren't really that fond of each other. Through over two decades of their parents' tumultuous relationship of getting together, breaking up, getting married and then divorced, Max and Diana are perpetually forced together and become the most unlikely of friends. They see each other through their own marriages and divorces, rehabs and spin-outs, career rejiggerings and epic life fails. But when they actually fall into each other, will they lose the only family they've ever known? A play about falling in and out of love with your best friend.

Carla Ching is An LA native. She stumbled upon pan-Asian performance collective Peeling at the Asian American Writers Workshop and wrote and performed with them for three years, which she still considers her first theater training. Her plays include Nomad Motel (Forthcoming at the National New Play Network showcase, O’Neill Playwrights Conference), Fast Company (South Coast Repertory, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Lyric Stage Company, and Pork Filled Productions; winner of the Edgerton New American Play Award and The Seattle Times’ Footlights Award for Top Play on a Smaller Stage), The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Artists at Play and Mu Performing Arts), and TBA (2g) and The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness (Ma-Yi Theater Company). She’s an alumna of The Women’s Project Lab, Lark Play Development Center Writers Workshop, CTG Writers’ Workshop, and Ma-Yi Writers Lab. Former Artistic Director of Asian American Theater Company, 2g.TBA is published in Out of Time and Place. Fast Company is published by Samuel French. BA, Vassar College. MFA, New School for Drama. On television, Ms. Ching has written on USA’s “Graceland,” AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead,” and is currently writing on Amazon’s “I Love Dick.” She is a proud member of New Dramatists and The Kilroys.; @carlaching.

The Huntington Theatre Company is a national leader in the development of new plays. The cornerstone of activity is the Huntington Playwriting Fellows (HPF) program, a two-year fellowship for selected local writers. A two-time $245,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation adds local playwright Melinda Lopez to the Huntington’s full-time staff as playwright-in-residence for six years, from 2013 - 2019. The annual two-week Summer Workshop and Breaking Ground festival of new plays allows selected HPFs and national writers to develop their plays in two and three dimensions. The Huntington has produced over 120 world, American, or New England premieres.

The Huntington Playwriting Fellows (HPF) program creates relationships between a local community of writers and a nationally prominent producing theatre, forges those bonds through authentic conversation and artistic collaboration, and encourages dialogue between local artists. Huntington productions of plays by Huntington Playwriting Fellows include Milk Like Sugar and Luck of the Irish by Kirsten Greenidge; The Atheist, Brendan, and The Second Girl by Ronan Noone; Stick Fly and Smart People by Lydia R. Diamond; Sonia Flew and Becoming Cuba by Melinda Lopez; Ryan Landry’s “M” and Psyched by Ryan Landry; Before I Leave You by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro; The Cry of the Reed by Sinan Ünel; and Shakespeare’s Actresses in America by Rebekah Maggor.

Since 2003, the HPF program has invited writers to participate in two-year residencies, during which playwrights receive a modest honorarium, join in a biweekly writers’ collective with artistic staff, attend Huntington productions and events, and are eligible for readings and support through the Breaking Ground festival of new plays. 

The primary focus of the program is creating relationships with writers at all stages of their careers, from emerging talent to established professionals. The program provides a framework for an in-depth, two-year artistic conversation and a long-term professional relationship. The Summer Workshop’s, which began in 2012, were developed from conversations at convenings with Fellows past and present to solicit ideas about how to improve and expand the program.

In 2009, the Huntington instituted an open application process with submissions solicited each spring from any writer primarily based within commuting distance of Boston. The theatre selects two to three writers whose terms overlap with adjacent cohorts.

Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. The Huntington is the recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and was named Best of Boston 2013 and 2014 by Boston magazine. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit

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